Sunday, March 29, 2009

Defensive projections

I've updated the position player pages with defensive projections. These are based on 4 years of TotalZone data, including minor league defensive ratings. I have not included catchers yet. The numbers tell you how many runs above/below average player should be for every position that he played at least a game in.


The infield numbers (excluding 1B) are dependent on each other - if a guy plays short and second his rating at short uses all infield data as an input. Outfielders are similarly lumped together. I use MLE's based on the work I presented here.

The numbers will disagree sometimes with previous defensive projections published on my site, the difference is input data used. Previously I used average Zone rating data.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Top 10 Players ever

On a recent ESPN chat, Keith Law was asked who he would put into the Hall of Fame if it were starting from scratch and he could only put 10 in. Kind of got me thinking, and I decided if I were to do it I'd go with one player per position, and with both a righty and lefty pitcher to round out the 10.

Furthermore, I'm not limiting my picks to eligible retired players, and I'll even pick an active player. Because this is a pointless diversion and I can make up my own rules. So my lineup, the greatest to ever play their positions:

C Josh Gibson (or Matt Weiters :-)

1B Albert Pujols - Lou Gehrig is considered the greatest 1B ever, but I think Albert may change that. He's not quite as good a hitter as the iron horse was, but he's not that far off either, and Pujols has just tremendous defense. I think Gehrig was generally considered an average defender.

2B Rogers Hornsby - Bill James made a good case why he shouldn't be #1, but the bat is just too hard to ignore.

SS Honus Wagner

3B Michael Jack Schmidt - Considered A-Rod, his career will surpass Mike overall, but A-Rod just hasn't been that great defensively at 3rd. Particularly on bunts. I can't put A-Rod at short, because Honus dominated his era more than A-Rod did. So A-Rod will have to wait for 11-20.

RF Babe Ruth

CF Willie Mays

LF Barry Bonds

RHP Satchel Paige

LHP Lefty Grove

Who would you pick?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Angels in Spring Training

I saw two Angel games on my trip to Arizona. The first was an ugly loss which I wrote about in the comments of a previous post. The second was last Tuesday against the Padres in Peoria. I tried writing about that from my iPhone but the comment got lost in cyberspace, so I waited until I got home.

John Lackey pitched 5 strong innings, looking like the horse that he is, and has been for his whole Angel career outside of last April. I hope they work out an extension soon. The Angel bats jumped all over the Padre pitching but Brian Fuentes came in and coughed up the lead in the 6th inning before the Angel bats got going again, winning 12-7 (from memory, it was 4 days ago and I'm old). Brandon Wood looks very good, making a lot of solid contact. It remains to be seen how much playing time the Angels can offer him. In 38 at bats, he has 3 walks and 4 strikeouts to go with a .711 SLG. Compare this to his 2008 spring stats, where he struck out 22 times with no walks. I think the kid is making some progress.

One cool thing is that a very nice gentleman seated next to us found an obviously game-used baseball somewhere, and presented it to my 11 month old daughter as a present. She gets her first souvenir baseball before her daddy does, though at least I did have my hands, briefly, on a Nick Markakis homer 2 years ago.

We were considering another game at Tempe on Friday on the return trip from the Grand Canyon area, but decided not to push it. You can't just drive 4 hours straight with a baby in the car.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This Probably Makes Me an Enemy of the Country

But tonight I was rooting on team Venezuela to the same degree that Hugo Chavez must have been. In baseball, I just can't get into nationalistic rooting. My loyalties lie with the Angels, and seeing no Angels on team USA, and Bobby Abreu on Venezuela clinches it for me. As the game went to the late innings, I did root for USA to pick up a few runs to make sure the game was close.

Which of course meant that K-Rod would pitch. Even though he's left for the Mets, I will always root for the kid who pitched the 2002 Angels to the World Series, winning 5 games that postseason. It's just icing on the cake tonight as 2 of the 3 outs in the 9th inning were against Red Sox hitters.

After K-Rod struck out Youkilis to end the game, I did the pointing to the sky thing in celebration. Just like old times.

Spring Training

I will be heading to Arizona to see a few Angel games next week. I won't be able to make any blog posts during that time, but I can leave comments on my blog. That's the way my iPhone works. I'll be posting my Spring training observations on this thread.

Friday, March 06, 2009


Why, all the armies of Xerxes would tremble when the 300 best position players from 1955 and on gather for WAR. Wins above replacement, that is.

Lou Whitaker ranks 26th, Alan Trammell 44th. I think it's a joke that neither has been elected to the Hall of Fame, but I would have preferred that they rank back to back instead of 18 apart. Here are some cool situations where linked players do rate back to back:

Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken, 1982 Rookies
Jeff Bagwell and Frank Thomas, May 27 1968
Paul Molitor and Robin Yount, longtime teammates
Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols, though this one won't last long
Graig Nettles and Willie Randolph
David Ortiz and Mo Vaughn

2008 Projections

My 2008 Projections, run in December 2007, have been found. They are now on the site. No idea yet on the 2007 projections.

Happy Birthdays Vlad

Apparently, Vladimir Guerrero is one year older than he's generally listed, though apparently this was known.

It affects his projection slightly. His age has been corrected in my system.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Most overpaid players

I started with Tim Dierke's list of 45 bad contracts, and tried to see how much value a player has for the length of the contract, compared to the money left on the deal. I started with the CHONE projection of wins above replacement and assumed that players will lose 0.5 wins per year (except for pitchers, where I go by the CHONE 6 year forecast which includes a win value each year). And 10% inflation, which may or may not actually happen.

Percentage wise, it's hard to beat Andruw Jones who still has 18 million coming his way for no value at all (at least to the Dodgers, who are paying that contract). But I'm looking for gross dollar value, so a really good player worth 100 million will show up if his contract pays him 150.

And the worst:
1. Barry Zito. He still has 5 years and 101.5 million left as he provides #5 starter value, worth 24 million over 5 year. I think that is being generous.

2. Vernon Wells. Worth 41 million over 6 years, but will be paid 117.

3. Soriano. He's worth 51 million over 6 years, but has 106 million to go.

4. Carlos Lee. Worth 20 million over 4 years (he's no better than Bobby Abreu) and will be paid 74.

5. Mike Young. Will be paid 80 million over 5, but is worth about half that.

Juan Pierre and Gary Matthews Jr. don't show up. Pierre has almost no value, and Matthews is only worth 6 total over the next 3 years, but they will only be paid 28 and 33 million each. Really bad percentage wise, but the won't make enough to get into the top 5.

What to do about A-Rod?

A-Rod apparently has a torn labrum in his hip. If he requires surgery, he may miss up to half the season. If this forces the Yankee's best athlete into the lineup, they lose runs at a rate of 55 per season. Of course, there are other options, plenty of third basemen the Yankees could trade for. I'm sure the Orioles would love to send them Melvin Mora. If Brandon Wood has a great spring Chone Figgins could be available. Maybe even Scott Rolen, if the Blue Jays decide they have no chance this year.

It's too bad A-Rod couldn't have broken the news a few days earlier, then the Yankees might have considered Nomar Garciaparra. That would have been cool to see all three of the great young shortstops of the 90's together.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Update on WAR values

I reloaded the player pages today, in some cases the TotalZone changed because I realized I had not used the most current database and park factors. On fairly large change is Manny Ramirez for 2005-2007, my previous numbers had him only a bit below average, now he is in the -10 to -20 range those years (though better last year for both of his teams). This puts his defensive ratings in the same range as his Fangraphs UZR ratings, though nowhere near as bad as his STATS UZR values.

Another correction I made was to have the offensive runs adjusted by a league specific runs to win converter, but the defensive ratings (and position adjustments) to use a standard 10 runs = 1 win. The reason is that the TotalZone ratings use a standard plays to runs value over the last half century. A play saved by Luis Aparicio in the 60's counts as .75 runs, just like one saved by Omar Vizquel in the 90's.

This is a conscious decision to better allow comparisons of fielders, in runs saved, across time. Now since little Louie played in a lower run environment, an extra play could be counted at a lower value than one in the high offense 1990's. But then, the win value of that run would be greater. Maybe Brooks Robinson didn't save 268 runs, he only saved 230 because runners would have been less likely to score. But his defense was worth about 27 wins.

Maybe the two exactly cancel out, maybe not, but I figured it was close enough, and the simplicity and ease of comparison led me to stick with this decision.

The player win totals will change a bit here and there - I apologize to anyone who has spent a bunch of time trying to compile a greatest of alltime list, but soon I will add a leaderboard page. No reason not to make it very extensive, such as top 300 or so.

Player of the Day: Manny

The Dodgers started the offseason by offering Manny 2 years and 45 million. After a few months, and the Dodgers upping the offer to 2 years and 45 million, Manny returned with a counteroffer: 2 years and 45 million.

Much haggling was needed to find a midpoint acceptable to both parties, but in the end, they were able to settle on 2 years, and 45 million dollars.

The Dodgers are now clear favorites to repeat in the NL west, and it will be interesting to see if Manny's incredible finish last year was due to some good luck, or if he's experiencing a Bonds-like late career burst (disclaimer: I'm not trying to make allegations of any kind here).

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Donate to this site, if you want

I've added a paypal buttonon the left side of If you find these projections, or the historical wins above replacement pages of value please consider donating.

I certainly understand that these are not the best economic times, so no pressure if it's not in your budget. But anything helps. And if the money allows me to buy nice things for my wife, that means she'll tolerate me spending more time in the stat dungeon creating more features.

If you play fantasy baseball, find these projections useful, and win your league, consider sharing some of the prize money*.

*Disclaimer: If you lose your fantasy league I will not be sending you any refund.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Values

I've added fantasy baseball values to the position player projections. They are based on a standard 5x5 league with a $260 salary cap, and 12 teams. I've added values for the 20th, 50th, and 80th percentile projections. You can see the values for an NL or AL only league, or a mixed league.

I will not have a spreadsheet available for these dollar values on my site, but I suggest using the price guide from Last player picked. That site, which is so cool that it's super sweet, allows you to customize the output to your league, and already includes the CHONE projections, as well as other systems.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Wins above Replacement, 1955-2008

I've added pages for all players who had at least 50 career plate appearances from 1955 to 2008. Wins above replacement combines:

Batting (linear weights baseruns)
Baserunning (stolen bases/caught stealing, plus more)
Fielding (TotalZone range, turning DP, outfielder throwing, catchers)
Position adjustment
The difference between average and replacement, based on strength of league

Example: Chone Figgins

This is something I have worked on, in some form or another, for about 15 years. I'm glad that I finally can combine the minimal technical ability with a website that can handle the volume.

Future enhancements will be, with no definite timetable:

Team Pages
Players before 1955 - I'll need to develop a crude stand in for defensive ability.